Transgender Youth Continue to Face A High Rate of Harassment in NYS Schools
A law to protect LGBT children in New York schools is not working well, especially for transgender youth. An NYCLU study on the impact of the 2010 Dignity for All act found almost 5000 complaints in schools for gender identity harassment, more than any other kind of complaint. A woman the group is calling “Michelle” has a 15 year-old transgender daughter, who she says had to leave school because she was a constant target.
"So much bullying in 9th grade that she had an emotional breakdown over her safety. The isolation and harassment that she is experiences have devastated her self-esteem and self-confidence. On more than one occasion, she has told me 'I wish I could go to bed and just not wake up.' I check-in on her a few times when she sleeps knowing that it is what she is thinking about."
Isolated at home, Michelle says her daughter shares her cell phone number with strangers over the internet. The family is moving again to try and find a school more supportive. Lauren Frederico, who wrote the report, says schools largely ignore the complaints and don’t understand the law.
" Even the most well intentioned principals and superintendents are often at a complete loss. Most school staff receive little to no training. As a result they feel confused, overwhelmed, and ultimately unclear about what's required under the law and how to make transgender and gender non-conforming students feel comfortable in school."
The NYCLU recommends:
- An issue of immediate guidance and training for all school staff
- Improvement of data collection and reporting
- Ensuring all schools have accessible, confidential means of accepting complaints or reports of discrimination, harassment and bullying
- Pass and enforce a Commissioner's Regulation to ensure transgender and gender nonconforming youth have the same educational benefits and opportunities that all students are entitled to
New York’s ' Dignity for All act' specifically protects trans-gender students and non-gender-conforming youth. The NYCLU says the act isn’t stopping harassment from other students or discrimination by staff and teachers.